Making your own hay steamer?
A question we are often asked is why shouldn’t we just make our own hay steamer?
Its simple all you need is a box and a steamer?
I thought I would give you some more background on the Simply Steam and how we came to our current design.
Finding the right box was mainly a process of elimination as we were trying to find the right combination of a box large enough to fit two haynets in but wasn’t too large. A box that is too large is firstly more difficult to store as we appreciate that often yards don’t have much room and if there is a few people that have a hay steamer on the yard they need to be easily stored, the box also needs to be easily manoeuvrable so we went for a box with wheels and also added a handle which is useful for opening the box if it is hot and also useful for moving the box round the yard.
We also looked at using a larger box that easily fit two large or three small nets in or a full bale of hay the issue we had with this is, the larger the box the lower the temperature and the main thing we were trying to achieve was making sure that they consistently steamed at between 90-100 degrees.
Its useful to bear in mind that the colder the weather the lower the temperature the steamer will reach. The temperature is always going to effect your steaming temperature as the cold air is going to be contantly cooling the hot steamer. If you have somewhere that is sheltered and away from the elements that’s the best place to use your steamer.
We have tested a lot of different steamers all which claim to have the same output and steaming time and vary massively in price! As we use a hay steamer ourselves daily we found the best way to test was to use them ourselves and we have found such a variation in how well the steamers work but for now we have chosen the one that has been 100% reliable and is defiantly the most powerful. We are always looking to make improvements so if we find something better we will upgrade again.
The next thing we needed to have a look at is how best to distribute the steam around the hay! We have seen in a lot of do it yourself hay steamers that the steam comes in through just one hole which when we first looked at making one we concidered but we found that there would be patches of hay that were still dry.
We looked at a horseshoe design in the bottom of the box and that was a good shape we though that would evenly distribute the steam all the way through the hay which it did do, however we were back in the same situation of not getting the hay hot enough so after testing different options we settled on oor final design.
Connecting the steam hose
This has been a tough nut to crack! We have been through so many different options for this. Firstly we looked at a plastic connection and we used this for a while on our own the only issue with this is over time this does not last. Another issue with a plastic connection is fixing it in place, we had to trial lots of different types of glue as we couldn’t find one that would stand up to the heat.
We switched from Plastic to metal which again was a process of elimination to find something that was cost effective and long lasting.
Finally another point that we have come across a lot of food standard plastic. our boxes are not food standard. However they are polypropylene which is a thermoplastic polymer and can be heated unto 160 degrees and as we are heating to around the 100 degrees point the plastic shouldn’t be an issue.